May 29 (Reuters) – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said that if another country wanted to join a Russian-Belarusian union, there could be “nuclear weapons for everyone”.
Russia moved forward last week with a plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, in the Kremlin’s first deployment of such warheads outside Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, sparking concern in the West.
In an interview published Sunday night on Russian state television, Lukashenko, President Vladimir Putin’s staunchest ally among Russia’s neighbours, said it must be “strategically understood” that Minsk and Moscow have a unique chance to unite.
“No one is against Kazakhstan and other countries with the same close relations that we have with the Russian Federation,” Lukashenko said.
“If anyone is worried… (then) it’s very simple: join the Union State of Belarus and Russia. That’s it: there will be nuclear weapons for everyone. world.”
He added that this was his own view – not Russia’s.
Russia and Belarus are officially part of a Union State, a borderless union and alliance between the two former Soviet republics.
Russia used the territory of Belarus as a launching pad for its invasion of its common neighbor Ukraine in February last year, and since then their military cooperation has intensified, with drills joint training on Belarusian soil.
On Sunday, the Belarusian Defense Ministry said another unit of the S-400 mobile surface-to-air missile systems had arrived from Moscow, with the systems expected to be combat-ready soon. (Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)